SC Dept of Education is hard at work denying thousands of children federally guaranteed services
South Carolina’s public schools spend an average of $11,480 per student. Of that money, roughly ten percent (or $1,097) is from the US federal government.
Federal K-12 spending is much higher in low-income and low-performance schools because of the Title One program which aims to reduce socio-economic correlated gaps in student achievement.
Much of the money comes down to the state and local districts through the No Child Left Behind law (NCLB) which was designed to encourage accountability in public education through standardized testing.
While many parents and lawmakers are rightly frustrated with federal involvement with public education, historically a local issue, the state’s acceptance of federal K-12 education funding involves a commitment to the NCLB law and its assessment provisions, which the state hopes to meet through its new PASS test.
Less well-known are the NCLB provisions dealing with children attending persistently failing schools. In order to provide these children with supplementary instruction, NCLB calls for after school tutoring to be offered to these children, free of charge to the parents. The parents are also to be offered some forms of transfers for their children to other, better performing, public schools.
Despite the fact that a shocking 64,219 public school students in South Carolina may be eligible for this supplementary instruction, the State Department of Education is doing little to inform parents of their right to it.
In fact, a member of the SC Advisory Board to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has just blown the whistle on the SC Education Department’s failure to uphold the federal law providing students at failing schools with after school tutoring and transfer programs.
Daniel J. Cassidy explains:
“…schools where students have failed to make “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) for at least two years are required to offer a transfer to an alternative school or free tutoring services. In South Carolina, tutoring services are offered by approximately 70 state-approved for-profit and not-for-profit companies. While the majority of South Carolina schools have failed to make “adequate yearly progress,” and it has been projected that all of the state’s schools will soon fail to make adequate progress toward state established goals, only 13% of eligible students are receiving the federally funded, individualized tutoring provided for them.”
Federal involvement in local education is controversial. NCLB has come to embody the type of big-government waste and mismanagement that school choice advocates cringe at. But when South Carolina’s Department of Education takes federal money it is committed to abiding by the NCLB law.
Taking this money from the feds and then allowing 64,219 children to sit in stagnant and failing schools is nothing less than a crime. It once again shows that politicians and bureaucrats have little regard for the students and parents they claim to serve.